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Monday, December 21, 2009

What I Want for Christmas - by Big Tex

That's right - it's that time of year again. Ahhh, Christmas. There is
nothing like the spirit of the season. (That includes the spirit in the
eggnog.) Children laughing, sometimes crying. Carols playing in every
crevice of every mall and department store. Christmas lists to fill.

On Goal Analysis has the spirit! Eggnog (and Wassel!) are being prepared,
and carols are hummed off key as we chase around the crying children to line
them up and tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

Man, we can see by the line Santa sure is busy. This year, we big kids don't
think we will add to the Jolly Man's sleigh-delivered burden. There is
someone we can ask for some cheer, however.

O favorite deliverer of our favorite sport, Gary Bettmanclaus, can you please consider the lists we OGA Boys humbly send forward over the next three days? Let's start with the one from Big Tex...

Dear Gary Bettmanclaus,
How are you? I am fine. I have been a relatively good boy this year – better than Jim Balsillie, not as good as Pavel “I’ve won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy four straight years” Datsyuk. As such, I believe I am owed three Christmas gifts (per the CBA). I know you’re a busy man, so I’ll skip any further chit-chat and cut to the chase. Here’s what I want:

1. Better officiating, both on- and off-ice. Seriously. There’s no point to filling page after page with examples of bad, stupid, or nonsensical calls, non-calls and suspensions, because you and I both know that the officiating needs work. Off the ice, the suspension policy is simultaneously mysterious and pure crap. While we’ve come to expect that from the league office, what we didn’t see coming is cause for alarm: Blown calls from the War Room in Toronto. How can you watch the slo-mo replay from multiple angles and still screw the pooch? On ice, the “intent to blow” rule, well, blows. Too many good goals have been lost this season alone to that well-intentioned, but ultimately misguided rule. Overall, officiating (particularly on the ice) has improved significantly since the Lockout, but that has only elevated it to a level best described as “somewhat better than the NBA”. The Great Game deserves better.

2. Stability and success for all non-traditional market teams. I want this for several reasons: First, because the NHL as a whole stands to benefit from financially stable/healthy teams in Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, Florida, etc. Second, because I live in a non-traditional market (Dallas), and I remember well the dark ages before the NHL came to town. Third, because successful non-traditional market teams will inspire kids in those markets to lace up skates, and some of those kids will end up in the NHL. It’s already happening, in fact. And fourth, because the resulting increase in size of the talent pool will help my third Christmas wish come true…

3. Two expansion teams for Canada. That’s right: TWO expansion teams for Canada. These teams won’t help grow the game like the non-traditional market clubs do (because they’ll be “preaching to the converted”), but they will put the league on more solid financial footing. While the traditionalist in me would love to see the second coming of the Jets and Nordiques, I’d settle for the Jets and a second team in Toronto…And in 2030, when the Winnipeg Jets win the Stanley Cup, Canada will rejoice…And when the Cup is hoisted by the Jets’ Captain – who played his youth hockey in Atlanta, where he grew up idolizing Ilya Kovalchuk – we can all rejoice.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.

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